Program Guidelines and Goals
Black Studies Major
A Black Studies major requires a minimum of 32 credit hours in addition to the completion of a senior research project. The senior research project should be designed in consultation with the director of Black Studies. The senior research project may be either a one semester or a full year project. Because Black Studies is an interdisciplinary field, the senior research may be cross-listed with senior research in another discipline. Field research or field experience may comprise a portion of the senior research project. A wide range of field opportunities in local Black communities is available to students through the Center for Black Studies.
There are three core courses in Black Studies, required of a major in the area:
|BLST 235||Introduction to Black Studies|
|ENGL 255||Ethnic Literature|
|HIST 193||African American History|
In addition to core courses and the senior research project, the Black Studies major requires the completion of at least one course in Women's and Gender Studies. While any Women's and Gender Studies course may be used to fulfill this requirement, students ideally should choose a course that includes a discussion of topics about Black women. Appropriate courses may be selected in consultation with the director of Black Studies.
Other requirements include the completion of one course in which the primary subject matter is Africa or the Caribbean and Latin America. This requirement is designed to encourage students to confront, in a substantial manner, the triangular relationship between the Black experience in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, and North America.
Black Studies Minor
The minor in Black Studies requires a minimum of 24 credit hours. Students who wish to be awarded a minor in Black Studies must complete the three core courses:
|BLST 235||Introduction to Black Studies|
|ENGL 255||Ethnic Literature|
|HIST 193||African American History|
Students also are required to complete at least one Women's and Gender Studies course. Courses which satisfy this requirement may be selected in consultation with the director of Black Studies.
Additionally, students are required to complete one Black Studies course in which the primary subject matter is Africa or the Caribbean and Latin America, plus a senior research project in the form of a directed study that seeks to correlate Black Studies with some aspect of the student's major field. Although it is not required, students are encouraged to include a field experience component in the senior research.
BLST 102 - Black Women's Lives: Autobiography As Protest (4 Credit Hours)
The purpose of this course is to explore personal narrative and autobiography as texts of resistance in Black women's lives. The course will use the multiple genres of autobiography such as poetry, essay, short narrative, memoir and major autobiographical works to illustrate Black women's resistance to race, class, and gender subordination or other forms of marginalization and oppression in their lives and in society. These autobiographical texts will be paired with select readings from women's studies and black studies to provide students with the analytical tools to identify how these texts function as forms of personal, social, political or institutional protest.
BLST 115 - Gospel Piano (1 Credit Hour)
BLST 122 - African/Diasporan Dance I (2 Credit Hours)
African/Diasporan Dance I focuses on African-centered forms of dance in one of many possible genres across the African Diaspora (e.g., traditional African forms, dances of the African Diaspora, African American vernacular, Hip-Hop, Contemporary African, etc.). Taught from a cultural perspective, this course emphasizes fundamentals such as fluidity, use of the head, spine and pelvis, grounded and weighted qualities, isolations and complex embodied rhythms. Concert attendance, short written critical responses and weekly written journals are examples of outside work that is required. No previous dance experience is expected.
BLST 133 - Gospel Choir (Ensemble) (1 Credit Hour)
BLST 139 - Gospel Ensemble (1 Credit Hour)
BLST 146 - Special Topics in Black Studies (1-4 Credit Hours)
BLST 154 - African Art and Visual Culture (4 Credit Hours)
This course examines the diverse arts and visual culture of Africa. The scope of this course ranges from pre-colonial to contemporary times, considering a selection of objects, concepts and practices from across the continent. The course is designed to provide you with an introduction to these art forms and the various socio-cultural, historical, critical and aesthetic platforms from which they operate. In addition, we will explore some of the key theoretical issues in the portrayal and interpretation of art and visual culture from this world arena.
BLST 171 - Pre-Colonial Africa (4 Credit Hours)
This survey course will introduce students to the history of Africa from the earliest times to 1880 - also known as pre-colonial African history. Though the focus is on Africa south of the Sahara, North Africa will be featured from time to time. Topics include the earliest human settlements in Africa, empires and kingdoms in East, West, and Southern Africa, Islam and Christianity in Africa, slavery, and the partitioning of the continent by powers in the mid 1800s.
BLST 172 - The History of Africa Since 1880 (4 Credit Hours)
This course examines myths about Africa, the history of colonialism on the continent in the 19th and 20th centuries, the rise of primary resistances to colonialism in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and how this fed the secondary and tertiary resistance movements from the 1930s through to the 1990s when the apartheid regime collapsed in South Africa. Through close readings of the historiography, students will grapple with the history of colonialism and the postcolonial era in Sub Saharan Africa.
BLST 199 - Introductory Topics in Black Studies (1-4 Credit Hours)
A general category used only in the evaluation of transfer credit.
BLST 212 - Race and Ethnicity (4 Credit Hours)
Contrary to the expectations of many modern social theorists, race and ethnicity continue to be important elements in the lives of contemporary people, serving as frameworks through which individual identities, community actions, and cultural meanings are interpreted. This course will introduce students to the sociocultural analysis of racial and ethnic identities. How did ethnic and racial identities and communities develop over time? Why does race, though now understood to be a social rather than a biological category, continue to be (mis)understood as a biological category? How do aspects of political, class, gender, and sexual identities influence racial and ethnic identities? We will use a global perspective to understand the conception of race and ethnicity. We will explore these topics among others including cultural and historical variability of ethnic and racial categories, the dialectical formation of identity, and the persistence of certain forms of racial and ethnic prejudice. Students will be expected to examine critically their own common assumptions and presuppositions about race and ethnicity, and to begin developing the theoretical tools for interpreting life in an ethnically diverse world.
BLST 219 - World Music (4 Credit Hours)
This course includes in-depth studies of several representative genres of music from around the world, including their social or political contexts. Traditional and popular musics of the world can play important roles in religion, identity formation (gender, race, sexuality), tradition, education, agriculture, history preservation, political resistance and domination, protest, symbolism and entertainment. Students will learn to identify, classify, and describe musical examples from several cultures by discerning musical styles, instrumental or vocal timbre, form and texture.
BLST 222 - Representing Africa on Film (4 Credit Hours)
An examination of ethnographic/documentary film dealing with Africa as well as contemporary cinema produced by African filmmakers. This class accords particular attention to the perspectives of African filmmakers as agents in the representation of cultures, social realities and histories in Africa.
BLST 223 - African/Diasporan Dance II (2 Credit Hours)
African/Diasporan Dance II focuses on African-centered forms of dance in one of many possible genres across the African Diaspora (e.g., traditional African forms, dances of the African Diaspora, Hip-Hop, African American vernacular, contemporary African, etc.). Taught from a cultural perspective, this course deepens exposure to fundamentals and aesthetics with complex phrasing and multi-layered movement. Emphasis is placed on fluidity, use of the head, spine, and pelvis, grounded and weighted qualities, isolations and complex embodied rhythms. Limited work outside the classroom is required. Examples include concert attendance, focused relative research inquiries, weekly journal writing, and video essays. Level II is only open to students with previous dance experience in any genre.
Crosslisting: DANC 222.
BLST 225 - African American History (4 Credit Hours)
This course will examine the history of African-Americans in the United States from 1619 to the present with an emphasis on the processes by which African-Americans adjusted to and resisted their conditions. Topics will include African heritage, slavery, Civil War and Reconstruction, Jim Crow, wartime experiences, the shift to urban life, the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, the rise of Hip Hop, and contemporary issues.
BLST 228 - Rebellion, Resistance and Black Religion (4 Credit Hours)
This course examines the cultural continuities between African traditional religions and Black religion in the United States. It also explores the connection between politics and religion among Black Americans and the role religion plays in the African-American quest for liberation. The course examines theological and ethical issues, such as the color of God and the moral justifiability of violent revolution. Students will be given an opportunity to study contemporary religious movements, such as Rastafarianism and the Nation of Islam, along with more traditional African sectarian practices such as voodoo and Santeria.
BLST 234 - History of Gospel Music (4 Credit Hours)
This course will explore the historical development of African-American gospel music in the 20th Century. The course will begin an examination of the pre-gospel era (pre-1900s-ca. 1920), move on to gospel music's beginnings (ca. 1920s), and continue unto the present. The course will explore the musical, sociological, political, and religious influences that contributed to the development of the various gospel music eras and styles. Through class lectures, demonstrations, music listening, reading and writing assignments, students will learn about the significant musical and non-musical contributions of African American gospel artists and the historical development of African American gospel music. Students will also strive to gain an understanding of the African American musical aesthetic and to determine how it is retained and expressed with African American gospel music and other musical genres. The class is open to students, staff, and faculty of all levels.
BLST 235 - Introduction to Black Studies (4 Credit Hours)
An introductory study of the Black experience in America, this course will survey the field by examining in series, the various social institutions that comprise Black American life. Students will be introduced to fundamental contemporary issues in the study of Black religion, politics, economics and the family. Additionally, this course will serve as an introduction to Afrocentricity, "the emerging paradigm in Black Studies," and to the new scholarship on Blacks in America.
BLST 237 - Global Health and Local Wellbeing (4 Credit Hours)
The course examines the sociocultural bases of both Western and non-Western medical and psychiatric systems. It focuses especially on different cultural assumptions about the nature and causes of illness and the institutional arrangements for the care of patients. The course will consider a variety of social scientific theoretical perspectives on the relationship between illness, medicine, and society. It will assess the degree to which non-Western medical systems may be compatible with and/or of benefit to Western medicine and psychiatry.
BLST 239 - Racialized Perspectives of Media (4 Credit Hours)
This course critically examines the forms that racial and ethnic representations have taken in American media. The course will attempt to chart changes in public perception of racial and ethnic difference in the context of cultural and social transformations, as well as adjustments in the U.S. media industry. We will first establish a foundational knowledge of media criticism and explore theories and perspectives on how ethnicity is experienced in American culture. We will then focus on the topic of the representation of ethnicity in American media, surveying it historically, in relation to specific ethnic groups, at particular moments, and in a variety of genres.
BLST 246 - Intermediate Topics in Black Studies (2-4 Credit Hours)
This course provides a venue in which to explore chosen topics in Black Studies at the intermediate level. Topics vary according to the interests of students and faculty. In some cases, the course may be repeated for credit. This course may be cross-listed based on the topic and disciplines that inform it.
BLST 255 - Ethnic Literature (4 Credit Hours)
A study of the literature of various ethnic, racial and regional groups of the United States. This course explores cultural heritages, historical struggles, artistic achievements and contemporary relations of groups in American society.
BLST 260 - Studies in Literature: Contemporary African Novels in English (4 Credit Hours)
A study of contemporary Anglophone African novels, all of which engage with histories and experiences of European colonialism.
BLST 265 - Black Women and Organizational Leadership (4 Credit Hours)
This class explores Black women's leadership orientations in organizations. Afrocentric and womanist frameworks are used to inquire about Black women's leadership in the context of their lives. In this course we explore and theorize Black women's use of communal and generative leadership orientations as well as their application of a multiple and oppositional consciousness. Organizational dilemmas stemming from their race, class, and gender, as well as the unique challenges Black women leaders face in creating a supportive life structure are examined. Students will critique the omission of Black women's leadership styles in the mainstream theories about leadership, as well as explore the implications of Black women's leadership for expanding mainstream theory.
Crosslisting: WGST 265.
BLST 304 - Race, Ethnicity, and Religion in the US (4 Credit Hours)
This course explores the formations and intersections of the scholarly concepts and practices of race and religion in the United States. The goals are to better understand how and why race often remains a taboo subject in the study of religion and the ways in which race and ethnicity are relevant to religious studies scholarship. To do this, the class examines the development of categories of race, ethnicity, nation, and religion in the context of American religious history and sociology. We then turn our attention to landmark texts and problems in contemporary scholarship. These texts engage with a variety of racial and religious identities.
BLST 320 - Contemporary African Peoples in Historical Perspective (4 Credit Hours)
This course is an examination of the historical, ethnic and socio-cultural diversity of sub-Saharan Africa societies. Central to this overview is an emphasis on the pre-colonial, colonial and postcolonial eras. It considers questions of economic development, urbanization, agricultural production and the relationship of the contemporary African state to rural communities. This course also explores symbolic systems in the context of rituals, witchcraft, indigenous churches, and new forms of Christianity currently spreading in Africa.
Prerequisite(s): ANSO 100 or by consent.
BLST 325 - African-American Women's Literature (4 Credit Hours)
Historical and contemporary African-American women's literature grounds an inquiry into black women's literary and intellectual traditions within the matrix of race, gender, class, and sexual relations in the United States.
BLST 327 - African/Diasporan Dance III (2 Credit Hours)
African/Diasporan Dance III focuses on African-centered forms of dance in one of many possible genres across the African Diaspora (e.g., traditional African forms, dances of the African Diaspora, African American vernacular, Hip-Hop, contemporary African, etc.). Taught from a cultural perspective, it is designed for students with significant experiences in African/Diasporan dance technique. This course approaches technique holistically and provides students with the rigorous practice required for performance. Emphasis is placed on fluidity, use of the head, spine, and pelvis, grounded and weighted qualities, isolations, and understanding or complex embodied rhythms. Because this course meets approximately 6 hours per week, little outside work is required.
Prerequisite(s): one year or two semesters of DANC 222 or consent of instructor.
Crosslisting: DANC 322.
BLST 332 - The Fourteenth Amendment and the Meanings of Equality (4 Credit Hours)
Since 1868, Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment has served as the principal benchmark for legal debates over the meanings of equality in the United States. This course explores the origins of the amendment in the post-Civil War period and the evolution of its meanings throughout the late nineteenth, twentieth, and early twenty-first centuries. We will examine closely the contested interpretations of equal protection and due process; the rise, fall, and rebirth of substantive due process; and the battles over incorporating the Bill of Rights. We will pay particular attention to how struggles for racial and gender equality have influenced debates over the amendment, and how the amendment has reshaped the parameters of U.S. citizenship.
BLST 333 - The Civil Rights Movement (4 Credit Hours)
This seminar will examine the struggle for African-American equality from the 1930s to 1970. The course will begin with the origins of the Civil Rights Movement during the New Deal and World War II. We will then explore the key campaigns, figures, organizations, and guiding themes of the Movement. Special attention will be paid to the processes by which grassroots activism forced responses from the federal, state, and local governments.
BLST 334 - Dancing in the Street: African-American Urban History (4 Credit Hours)
This course explores the history of the African-American urban experience. In the mid-18th century, the African-American community began to transition from a rural to an urban population. By the mid-20th century, African-Americans had become an overwhelmingly urban group. The course examines the process of the rural-to-urban transformation of African-Americans and the ways in which they have confronted, resisted, and adjusted to urban conditions of housing, employment, education, culture, and public space.
BLST 337 - The History of Black Power: From Marcus Garvey to Chuck D (4 Credit Hours)
This course explores the history of the ideology of Black Power and its various dimensions and incarnations from its origins in the early 20th century to its significance in the present. Topics to be addressed may include, but are not limited to: definitions of Black Power, applications of this ideology to politics and economics, artistic aesthetics, gender dynamics, key figures and organizations, current manifestations, meanings for the African-American community, and reactions from the larger American society.
BLST 339 - Culture, Identity and Politics in Caribbean Society (4 Credit Hours)
This course focuses on the social, cultural and political life of the Caribbean area, especially the English- and French-speaking areas. A fragmented group of nations decidedly on the periphery of the global economy, the Caribbean was once one of the richest areas of the world. Its riches then depended on the labor of enslaved Africans; the fruits of the plantation economy were enjoyed mainly by European planters. What is the legacy of such a history? We review the variety of Caribbean policies, from the strong democratic traditions of Jamaica to the autocratic rulers of Haiti, and explore how the Caribbean's unique combination of cultural influences affect the political processes, ways of life, class divisions and ethnic stratification evident in the Caribbean today.
Prerequisite(s): ANSO 100 or consent.
BLST 340 - Social Movements (4 Credit Hours)
In this course we explore social movements as a primary means of social change. We attempt to understand the conditions that precede, accompany and follow collective action. Particular case studies for analysis will be drawn from the United States and cross-cultural contexts to illustrate that social movements are human products that have both intended and unintended consequences. This course is sometimes taught with a special subtitle: "Social Justice Movements in Communities of Color,".
Prerequisite(s): ANSO 100 or consent.
Crosslisting: the Anthropology/Sociology Program.
BLST 343 - Demography of Africa (4 Credit Hours)
In this course, we begin by reviewing current literature to clearly define the term, Demography. Next, we examine the demographic processes of population change in the continent of Africa. Demographic processes include mortality, fertility and migration. In addition, we explore patterns of urbanization, economic development and educational attainment. We analyze survey data from the African Census Analysis Project and Demographic Health Survey. Upon completion, you should be familiar with a variety of demographic processes that allow an examination of interesting demographic, social and anthropological questions.
Prerequisite(s): ANSO 100.
BLST 345 - Advanced Topics in Black Studies (4 Credit Hours)
BLST 355 - The Harlem Renaissance (4 Credit Hours)
An analysis of the interrelationship between the cultural phenomenon and the literature of the Harlem Renaissance, particularly the way in which the social, economic and political conditions of the era helped to shape the literary art of the 1920s.
BLST 356 - The Narrative of Black America (4 Credit Hours)
A study of representative samples of Black literature ranging from slave narratives to contemporary Black fiction.
BLST 357 - Postcolonial Literature and Criticism (4 Credit Hours)
Readings in literature and criticism from Asia, Africa, Latin American and the Caribbean, in response to the experience of colonialism.
BLST 360 - History of African American Education (4 Credit Hours)
The goal of this course is to examine the historical experiences of African Americans in education and related aspects of life. Much of the course will focus on Blacks' experiences in schooling in the South from Reconstruction to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. In addition, students will contrast African American schooling experiences with those of Native Americans and others during this period. Students who enjoy and benefit from cooperative and participatory learning environments are encouraged to take this course.
BLST 361 - Directed Study (1-4 Credit Hours)
BLST 362 - Directed Study (1-4 Credit Hours)
BLST 363 - Independent Study (1-4 Credit Hours)
BLST 364 - Independent Study (1-4 Credit Hours)
BLST 365 - Studies in 16th- and Early 17th- Century British Literature (4 Credit Hours)
A study of selected works of poetry, prose and drama from 1500-1660.
BLST 367 - Black America's Legal Struggle for Educational Equality (4 Credit Hours)
This course examines U.S. Supreme Court cases that led to and followed the Brown v Board of Education decisions. It looks at the role of the Black community in challenging both de jure and de facto segregation in schooling and society. We begin by discussing the Plessy decision that Brown overturned and a few other Supreme Court cases that appeared to reduce the meaning of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the US Constitution for Blacks and others. Next, we look at the efforts of individuals such as Charles Hamilton Houston who led the legal offensive of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to overturn Plessy. We will discuss the state of education in relation to Blacks and others prior to Brown and afterward.
BLST 369 - Studies in Early American Literature (4 Credit Hours)
Selected topics in the writings of colonial and early national America.
BLST 370 - Advanced Topics in Black Studies (4 Credit Hours)
BLST 384 - Race and Ethnicity in Latin America (4 Credit Hours)
This course critically examines the history of the social construction of race and ethnicity in Latin America. In it, we will explore how historians have employed race and ethnicity as methodological categories in order to elucidate the histories of Latin America from the pre-Hispanic era through the modern period. Particularly we will focus on the various attempts by the ruling elite to deploy race in the ordering of society; and, how the non-elite resisted the imposition of those elite conceptions of racial and ethnic hierarchies to create their own codes of conduct, and how those conflicts have changed over time.
BLST 390 - Topics in Black Studies (4 Credit Hours)
This course provides a venue in which to explore chosen topics in Black Studies. Topics vary according to the interests of students and faculty. This course may be cross-listed based on the topic and disciplines that inform it.
BLST 391 - Comparative Slavery in the Americas (4 Credit Hours)
For many, the history of slavery is synonymous with the United States South. But slavery was not limited to the US and by approaching slavery from a comparative perspective, we will deepen our understanding of slavery as an institution, slaves as historical actors, and therefore the legacies of slavery throughout the Americas. We will explore regional differences within slaves' opportunities to form families, to create cultures, to rebel, and to labor for their own benefits; as well as the interactions of African cultural visions and Christianity.
BLST 399 - Topics in Black Studies (1-4 Credit Hours)
A general category used only in the evaluation of transfer credit.
BLST 422 - Performance: African/Diasporan (1 Credit Hour)
New and reconstructed works choreographed by faculty and guest artists in African/Diasporan dance are learned by students and rehearsed for public performance. Participation can include attending biweekly company classes and contributing to the production of the performance. Differences in course number refer to genres of performance work. By audition or invitation only; auditions are typically held during the first two weeks of each semester or immediately preceding a short residency by a guest artist.
Crosslisting: DANC 422.
BLST 451 - Senior Research (4 Credit Hours)
BLST 452 - Senior Research (4 Credit Hours)